Doug Atkins is considered by many to be the greatest defensive end in football history. That's quite a label for an athlete who signed with Tennessee on a basketball scholarship.
Atkins was named All-SEC his last two years with the Vols, in addition to being named All-America in 1952. In recognition of Atkins' work on the field, he was the only player to be unanimously named to the All-SEC Quarter Century Team and was awarded SEC Player of the Quarter Century (1950-74). He was also selected to the All-Time All-SEC Team (1933-82).
The Vols went 29-3-1 and were crownded national champions in 1951 with Atkins at defensive end. After his playing days, Tennessee honored him in a ceremony by proclaiming Sept. 11, 1976, Doug Atkins Day.
After wreaking havoc at Tennessee, Atkins went on to play professionally with the Cleveland Browns, signing a contract in 1953. With Atkins rushing the ball carrier, the Browns won the division title in 1953 and the NFL Championship the following year.
Chicago was the next stop, where he spent 12 seasons imbedding his name in the history books. Atkins was a member of the Bears in 1963 when they won the NFL Championship and in all, he was a three-time All-Pro selection and made over nine appearances in the Pro Bowl, including seven straight. He finished his pro career playing three years for the expansion New Orleans Saints.
He and Reggie White are the only Tennessee players to ever be voted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Professional Football Hall of Fame (1982).